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Student groups work to encourage young people to vote

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File photo by WKOW
Voting at one of the three UW-Madison polling places.

MADISON (WKOW) -- Getting young people to the polls takes a lot of phone calls.

"We're hoping to have more than a thousand hours of phone calling across the country today," said Noah Lewine, UW-Madison campus organizer for Wisconsin Student Public Interest (WISPIRG).

Saturday marks the first ever "Vote Early Day," a civic holiday meant to bring awareness to the different ways to vote early.

WISPIRG was part of a nationwide phone and text bank to commemorate the day. They specifically focus on encouraging young people in the Midwest to get out and vote.

"It's exciting to see all the early voter turnout among young people specifically," Lewine said. "It's a little bit easier over a period of ten days to find the time to go vote."

According to Madison clerk's office staff member Nikki Perez, around 500 or so students show up to the UW-Madison polling sites daily.

Despite changes to the voting process because of the pandemic, Lewine finds voting is-- in many ways-- more accessible.

"There is a level of a culture, of civic engagement, that has not existed in this way before this election," said Lewine.

However, a recent study from Best Colleges shows only 54 percent of college students feel educated enough to vote.

Melissa Venable, education advisor with Best Colleges, said, "What they're telling us is, they've got the intent to vote. We're hopeful that we're seeing-- even with some of the distrust and lack of confidence-- that overall students want to get out and have their voice heard."

Lewine says universities are being more receptive to voter engagement and education than ever before, which could help increase youth turnout at the polls.

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Jessica Viti

Intern, WKOW TV

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